REVIEW: ‘Watchmen’ Episode 2 – Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship

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Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship

Watchmen, the new HBO series which acts as a spiritual successor to the graphic novel of the same name, is back with its second episode of the season, “Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship.” The episode picks up where the pilot left off as police chief Judd Crawford (Don Johnson) was hanged by the man Angela Abar (Regina King) previously ran into while going into the bakery she owns as a front for her police work, Will Reeves (Louis Gossett Jr.).

Similar to how the pilot focused on the Black Wall Street Massacre of 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this episode also focuses on another real historical event. This time, it’s centered around Black soldiers serving in WWI. A German officer details America’s oppression of Black people, at the time, in a pamphlet hoping to sway them to join the German cause. As the pamphlets are released from the sky by a German plane, Black US soldiers catch them from the sky and read them over as their white officers continue to treat them as second-hand citizens.

The show brilliantly focuses on one solider holding the pamphlet that was dropped out of the sky before the camera swoops again showing us this man is none other than Will’s father. His connection to the letter is another way Watchmen illustrates that racial tensions still exist even as progress moves us forward. Nothing changes overnight and the reemergence of the Kalvary proves that not as much has changed as people would like to think.

Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship

While Angela looks into Will and her chief of police’s supposed dirty past, she is haunted by memories. “Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship” uses a flashback to do this, showing us when a member of Kalvary broke into her home. With “Santa Baby” playing in the background, the song slowly becomes distorted as Angela finds makeshift weapons while hiding from her attacker in hopes of getting the upper hand on him. The fight scene is tense and the excellent sound design and music only heightens the feel of it. Angela is overtaken by the attackers and then wakes next to chief Judd. It only then does the audience realize this was not real.

The scene culminates with Angela’s goodbye to her the Chief of Police, Judd, who was not only her boss but her friend. The goodbye between Judd and Angela is a somber moment. The flashback itself doesn’t appear like a flashback until it is over, which is accurate of an episode of PTSD.  As someone who has suffered flashbacks triggered by PTSD in the past, it is impossible to distinguish where you are until they pass. The scenes’ seamless transitions and camera work should be commended here as much as the writing and acting.

When Angela is back at the bakery interrogating Will, he claims to be Dr. Manhattan, which is quickly proven false by both Angela and him, another well-known figure begins to make a bigger mark on the world around him yet again. In the graphic novel, Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias is a zealous genius who believes he and only he knows what is best for humanity.  After the original Watchmen fail to stop him, Ozymandias is able to stop WWIII and cease cold war tensions by releasing a giant squid created by his secret laboratory and company. This is all veiled an alien attack.

Those squid-like creatures still exist in HBO’s series and in the pilot, as Angela was driving her son home, traffic actually stops due to them raining down. Now, in “Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship,” two Black characters mention, partially in jest, it is all a conspiracy theory and the squid are only happening to everyone focused away from their rights being taken away.

'Watchmen' Episode 2 - Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship

The attention to detail from the original novel and the ability to weave modern political themes into the context of the original graphic novel is not only beautiful it is incredibly clever. In “Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship,” Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons) is back now living alone in luxury but he once again has plans for mankind. Irons excels as Ozymandias. He captures his eccentric style that while intriguing is dangerous as his vague ideas begin to come together.

More and more pieces of the original graphic novel are being woven into HBO’s Watchmen but none of it feels shoehorned. The world-building is both a love letter to the original story and a way to parallels to the new characters presented. Even when Dr. Manhattan is mentioned the focus is never taken off of Angela. That is something other series set in well-known franchises struggle with.

I didn’t think Watchmen could get much better than its pilot, “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice,” however, “Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship” is incredible. The pacing is near perfection and the story, like the original Watchmen graphic novel, is the perfect blend of fantastical comic book drama with real, gritty political discourse.

Watchmen is streaming on HBO with new episodes dropping every Sunday at 8pm CT/9pm EST.

'Watchmen' Episode 2 - Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

I didn’t think Watchmen could get much better than its pilot, “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice,” however, “Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship” is incredible. The pacing is near perfection and the story, like the original Watchmen graphic novel, is the perfect blend of fantastical comic book drama with real, gritty political discourse.